UT: Run OK, but Cody Johnson banged up
As for Texas returning to more of a power rushing game, the results were mixed. For the first time since 2005, the Longhorns had three backs rush for more than 50 yards. All told, Texas ran for 197 yards on 46 carries, good for 4.3 yards a carry and they did not fumble.
However, they also couldn't pound it in from the 1-yard line and a blown assignment on fourth down of that series turned the ball over to Rice. And Texas coach Mack Brown knows Horns fans want to see perfection right off the bat.
"Overall, you rush for 200 yards and that's pretty good," Brown said. "We need to be perfect in every case. This is Texas, by the way. We had no turnovers, we had no sacks, no fumbles, no interceptions and think we've got to improve in our running game. If you ask me if the running game Saturday was better than it's been any time last year, I would say it was much better Saturday than at any time last year. So, we made some progress. We're sure not there yet."
Comparing any rushing attack to last year is futile. The Horns didn't have a ground game outside of quarterback Colt McCoy, so anything is going to be better.
While three running backs did surpass 50 yards, none had more than 61, which is what Tre' Newton finished with on 18 carries, three of which he took into the end zone. Fozzy Whittaker had 51 yards on nine carries and starter Cody Johnson finished with 59 yards on 15 carries. Johnson, however, tried to hide a sprained ankle that occurred on the second play. He is questionable for next week's game in Austin against Wyoming.
"[Johnson] tried to continue to play and wouldn't tell us and wouldn't come out, but he wasn't as efficient with his cuts after that," Brown said. "He'll be slowed a little bit this week. We'll hope he gets back in time for the game."
*First-year starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert was eased into things Saturday because Texas' game plan was to go heavy on the rush and instill that physical mindset into the offense (coach Mack Brown came away from the game saying the wide receivers must do a better job of run blocking downfield).
Garrett finished 14-of-23 for 172 yards. He did not throw an interception and did a good job ditching a couple of passes when he couldn't find a receiver.
Brown said Gilbert could easily have had two touchdown passes to his credit, but the receiver went out of bounds at the 1-yard line on a deep ball and a screen pass that went about 25 yards was called dead at the 2.
"We thought he did really well," Brown said. "There was probably a tremendous amount of pressure on him because the last time people saw him was in the national championship and the expectations got really high from that standpoint. But, there were no turnovers. He had no interceptions. We looked at his numbers as compared to Vince Young's in his first start and Colt McCoy's and they're very, very similar."
Brown said Gilbert will get more opportunities to get his talented crew of wide receivers going.
"We're going to throw more than we did Saturday. We want to be more balanced than that," Brown said. "That was a mindset we were putting into our team and our wide receivers. We want them to get that part down because we know how to throw it and we have to go back and continue to learn how to run it."
*Saturday's game at Reliant Stadium in Houston marked the first time Texas has opened the season on the road since 1995 (W, 38-17 at Hawaii).
*Texas improved to 4-0 all-time at Reliant Stadium, outscoring opponents 204-34 in the four games.
*Prized recruit Jackson Jeffcoat of Plano, the son of former Dallas Cowboy Jim Jeffcoat, recorded his first career sack with 8:43 remaining in the third quarter.
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